Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was on Wednesday given the additional responsibility of running the finance ministry as the island nation grapples with its worst-ever economic crisis.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office announced that Wickremesinghe was sworn in, two weeks after he was invited to form a unity government following his predecessor’s resignation.
Wednesday’s appointment ends two weeks of wrangling among coalition partners for the crucial position ahead of the bankrupt South Asian nation’s bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund.
“The president’s party had wanted the finance portfolio, but the PM insisted he wanted it if he is to lead the country out of the economic chaos,” a top politician involved in the negotiations told AFP.
Sri Lanka is suffering a critical shortage of foreign exchange that has left its import-dependent economy unable to source vital supplies of food, fuel and medicines.
The country’s 22 million people have endured severe hardships as a result, with record inflation and lengthy daily blackouts, and the government has defaulted on its $51 billion foreign debt.